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Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tennessee, 20 November 1986
Knox students paddled for minor infractions
By Marti Levary
Paddlings are being administered regularly in some Knoxville and Knox County high schools for minor rule infractions, possibly in violation of school system policies.
Some high school administrators interviewed said they use paddlings only for minor offences, though the student is given a choice of whether to accept a paddling or some other punishment.
"It is used for very minor things like a kid throws paper across the classroom," said Mike Carroll, assistant principal at Doyle High School. "If they cut class or are harassing another student or a teacher, that's serious stuff. Anything serious carries a more serious punishment, like three days detention."
Jim McClain, assistant principal at Powell High School, said he uses paddlings on a daily basis to discipline students "where they're being a little frisky and they need a little sting taken out of them. If they're told, 'If you do this again you might get another lick,' they might think twice. I don't know."
Austin-East High School Principal Charles Whitehead said he also offers paddling as an alternative to other minor punishments for horseplay, smarting off, "little immature things."
"The difference has been there is an option given to the child. It used to be, 'Turn your tail up there and I'm going to bust it'. Now we give a choice", Whitehead said.
Paddlings were discontinued at Holston High School this year, said Assistant Principal Harold Taylor. In-school suspensions initiated this year at Holston have become a more popular discipline method, he said.
A study of schools nationwide showed Tennessee schools use paddlings more frequently than all but two other states. The study did not report how many spankings are given at various grade levels.
In Knoxville City Schools the board policy says, "Generally speaking, all resources for solving the problem, including parental conferences, should be tried before resorting to this method of discipline".
The Knox County Schools policy says corporal punishment should be used only "in extreme cases of misconduct" where the principal and teacher agree corporal punishment is necessary. It points out "the school board will not uphold any teacher, principal or assistant principal who violates this policy".
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